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Best Phone System Options for Small Businesses
Small business owners need to know what to consider. One of the first considerations is what kind of phone system you want and where you want it hosted.
Today’s business phone systems offer diverse ways and tools to call and collaborate seamlessly, whether in or out of the office. In this article will discuss the best options available for small businesses.
Business Landline Phone Systems
A local or regional phone company basically supports business Landline Phone Systems. They are analog systems that run via a company’s traditional wiring. Business Landline Phone Systems are also known as Public Switched Telephone Networks (PSTNs).
To run a landline service, you need on-premise hardware that can create multiple extensions and offer phone system features. This hardware is known as Private Branch Exchange (PBX), and it provides features such as call transferring and call directories.
Today, some business landline phone systems combine functionality with VoIP systems. A traditional phone line connects to the data network then to employees’ phones.
Business landline phone systems are a reliable, time-tested solution for many organizations and are best for small businesses without high-speed internet access. However, phone system providers are moving away from landline systems, and they are increasingly becoming hard to get, maintain or repair.
VoIP Phone Systems
Instead of physical wires like the business landline phone systems, VoIP Phone Systems transfer voice calls over an internet connection. They are easy to set up and configure and provide access to features such as automated attendants, call queues, etc.
VoIP phone systems are significantly cheaper than landline systems and give remote workers access to the business phone system from their mobile devices. VoIP phone systems can either be hosted on-premise or in the cloud.
On-premises VoIP systems require a significant upfront cost since you have to buy all the equipment. Also, your in-house IT staff is responsible for maintenance and upgrades of the system. However, you have total control of the system and can access the equipment anytime.
With Cloud-based VoIP systems, there is no hardware to purchase and maintain. Your provider takes care of all that. This works best for small businesses that want quick access to new phone system features and their system all in one place. However, you aren’t in control of the hardware. If there is downtime, you must rely on the provider to fix it.
Private Branch Exchange
A Private Branch Exchange (PBX) system is a centralized telephone network that connects people within an organization. It usually connects to a traditional PSTN and takes inbound and makes outbound calls.
Like VoIP, PBX phone systems have two types:
- On-premise PBX: This PBX system has a network of phone lines and hardware installed and maintained in the business premises. This helps employees make outbound calls and receive incoming calls from customers.
- Hosted PBX: Hosted PBX systems are hosted out of the premises and managed by a service provider. You do not have to worry about the installation and maintenance. If any issue arises, customer support is available.
PBX phone systems come with advanced features such as:
- Automated call routing
- Call monitoring and recording
- Call parking
- Customized call menus
- Hold music or messaging
- Least-Cost Routing (LCR)
- Location-based routing
- Customer service screen popping
- Session Initiation
- Protocol (SIP) trunking
- Unified Communications (UC)
Unified Communications Platforms
Unified Communications (UC) platforms offer a wide range of communication and collaboration applications and services in the cloud. UC solutions cover are: voice and video conferencing, instant messaging/chat, team collaboration channels, file sharing, app integrations, etc.
Many providers also provide screen sharing or real-time document editing and contact center software as a separate solution or add-on product. Unified communications simplify work in a world of multiple platforms. The right UC platform brings everything your employees need to connect and work together in one interface.
Here are some benefits of UC:
- Better productivity: Teams can connect using any device or medium they choose and however is the most convenient for them
- Reduced costs: UC systems operate on the cloud hence low upfront costs
- Faster Collaboration: Employees can communicate and collaborate faster, thereby solving customer problems with greater agility
- Enhanced user experience: The right UC platform enhances staff experience and improves business productivity.
Choosing the Best Phone System for Your Small Business
Every business has different needs when choosing a phone system, so you first need to assess the state of your current system. Generally, VoIP is an affordable phone solution for small businesses. But depending on your business and current technology needs, any of the above phone system options may be the right one for you.
As a leading expert in digital marketing, integrated campaigns and marketing strategies, Tim has led award-winning marketing communications teams for several communications companies. In addition to serving as the Director of Marketing for ULTATEL, he is also the Kansas City president for the American Marketing Association.